Updated: Oct 1, 2020
Today I realized that people are not problems.
Sometimes I feel like there's a person in my life who is problematic. And, for one reason or another, it can be very difficult for me to deal with a problematic person.
However, it might be possible - I've seen it occur - where I am able to disconnect the person from the problem, and then work with the person to address the problem.
Now, whether or not the problem is eventually solved is less important than the fact that the person, almost instantly, is no longer viewed as a problem.
On the contrary, the person can now even be considered to be part of the solution. They're helping me deal with the problem, which completely alters the dynamic and my relationship to that person.
For example, I once had a boss who made me feel unappreciated and undervalued. For a long time, this 'problem' colored my entire relationship to my boss, so that even when things were going well I still related to him in an unhealthy way. That is, as a problematic person; a person who I created problems in my life.
But, for some reason, I decided to open up to my boss and share with him how I had been feeling and what my concerns were. In the process, I was forced, perhaps for the first time, to really vocalize and conceptualize what exactly was bothering me. To my surprise, it wasn't my boss that was the problem at all; rather, it was the negative emotions that arose within me during some of our interactions.
My boss not only responded sympathetically, but even tried to help come up with solutions for how to avoid this in the future.
When I finished our discussion, the 'problem' still existed, but (1) my relationship to my boss was significantly improved and (2) the problem turned out to be far less bothersome and intrusive than it had been just minutes before.
And so, I've realized that oftentimes it can be helpful to stop treating people as problems, and instead free ourselves up to deal with the problem itself, together.